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NJ Law Extends Parents' Coverage From 18 to 30

MANAGED CARE April 2006. © MediMedia USA
News and Commentary

NJ Law Extends Parents' Coverage From 18 to 30

MANAGED CARE April 2006. ©MediMedia USA

So many movie titles, so little time. A New Jersey law expected to go into effect next month raises the age when unmarried young adults are no longer covered under parents' insurance to 30 — the oldest in the nation.

Failure to Launch comes to mind, but then one finds that the young adults do not have to be living at home to qualify, nor do they have to be students. Maybe 13 Going on 30? Actually, the law covers 18 to 30.

"In New Jersey, our concern is that the law is so broad you do not have to be a student, you do not have to be a dependent, you do not have to live with your parents," says Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans. "All you have to be is 30, uninsured, and a resident of the state."

Is this a trend? While the Garden State is the outlier, USA Today reports that six other states have expanded coverage to those who are 24, 25, or 26 years of age. Those states are: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.

USA Today reports: "Several other states, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New York, are considering similar measures. . . ."

Pisano says that AHIP members understand that these examples are attempts by policymakers to keep up with a changing society. There are a great number of people between 18 and 30 who are uninsured. Some take longer than the traditional four years to finish college, and there have been many articles in consumer publications about grown children who somehow make their way back to the nest.

"Our members understand what's going on and also made a contribution in the form of particular kinds of products that have lower premiums and are more portable for this age group," says Pisano. "Having said that, there are a number of states that have acted to change the definition of who is a dependent. The New Jersey law redefines dependent in a way that could potentially have a negative effect on others who are covered by the particular employer."